Success and Failure

Failure: My May totally fell apart and I dissolved into existing instead of living. I didn’t do the things that I had committed to doing. But I’m also moving on.

Success: For the last week (or more), I have been getting myself put together- doing my hair and make-up almost everyday. Everyday for the past four days. It’s a small accomplishment, but it’s huge for me. I’ve been discouraged about my body, my appearance, and my image. They seem trite, but it means a lot for me to look myself in the eyes in any passing mirror and enjoy the work I’ve done, even if it’s just hair and make-up. Wardrobe is next; it’s already begun. I’m tired of being defined by t-shirts and baggy pants. I’m better than that. So, I’ve purchased a few dresses and I love wearing them. I feel fresh, fun, and feminine. Couldn’t ask for more. All of this focusing on my outside has improved my ability to see my insides. I’m valuable. So valuable, in fact, that someone chose to die- just for me. And that blows my mind and makes me happy in ways I find hard to express. So, I’m making other changes to make this physical body stronger and better able to serve my Lord. I’m making one small change everyday to be healthier. Some days that change has been a salad for lunch instead of pizza. Yesterday, all I found that I could muster was to put the ice cream back in the freezer without taking one more bite. It’s a process. I’d love to add exercise into my day, but I’m NOT a morning person and can’t fathom battling the early morning AND the exercise- it’s just a recipe for disaster. I’m hoping to exercise first thing in the morning, no matter what time that is. It’ll probably be around 11, after getting the kids up and fed and taking care of the little things, but then I want to spend 30 minutes moving. Maybe, I’ll take the kids for a walk. That’s my next step anyway.

So, I’m having little successes in my little world. Most days, I feel like I’m drowning, especially when I look backwards. So, like Dory, in possibly the best Disney line ever, “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.” Ignore the nay-sayers, even when they speak in my voice. Success breeds success. Or so I’m told.

Trapped

I got online this evening to blog about the new diet that I’m going to try, only to realize that all I’ve ever posted was (insert new diet here) day 1. Ugh. I wish that surprised me, but it doesn’t. I’m a horrible dieter. In fact, the only area of success I’ve ever had was in gaining weight- which is pretty counter-productive at this point. I’m topping the scale higher than I’ve ever been (pregnancy included) and I’ve gotten to the point where my failures greet me every morning in the form of back fat, trouble standing, and low energy. There are so many diets that help you lose weight that it can just be confusing. One low-fat, one high-fat/low-starch. Glycemic-Index, Paleo, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, etc. My head is swimming from the blur of dieting and all their insisting that theirs is THE way. I’m so tired of their ways. I’m so stuck in the rut of promising to diet and then not dieting. I’ve made lists and goal sheets, I’ve planned meals and read recipes, I’ve even had my sister clean out my kitchen from all “forbidden foods.”

Many days, I entertain the idea of weight-loss surgery, except that I know it wouldn’t work. I’d get into the office and the doctor would say, “okay, prove you can stick to a diet: lose 10 pounds.” I’ll walk out of that office determined to do the right thing and I will end up losing nothing. What’s the missing link? Am I just trapped in this unhealthy cycle forever, like Sleeping Beauty having already pricked her finger or Snow White after the apple or Rapunzel in her tower- incapable of actually getting out, getting free? Am I waiting (unconscious) for Prince Charming to show up? That my diets have all failed because they weren’t the right prince. It wasn’t true love? I love these fairy tales, I’m not really one of those people who blames fairy tales for all of women’s woes today (quite the reverse, I assure you). Perhaps it is the mystical and mysterious depression that has settled into my body. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Maybe it’s just my insatiable desire for fast food and sweet stuff.

No matter what the problem, I want to deal with it intelligently and strongly. I want to stand, victorious, at the top of Mount Everest and look back at what I’ve done. Mostly, I just want to feel normal, moderately active, figure “flaws” that can actually be camouflaged by clothing instead of exacerbated by it. I want to feel pretty in a dress and sexy with nothing on at all. And don’t give me that crap about society’s standards being unhealthy. I’m not 120 trying to lose 5 pounds with D-sized breasts and hollow cheeks. I’m 240 pounds with DD sized breasts and a stomach that passed them up. My libido (what libido) [let’s not even go there]. So, what’s going to work? What’s the magic pill that makes this all go away?

Did I mention that I homeschool? That my children are mired in my misery for every waking hour of their lives? Shouldn’t that motivate me? Shouldn’t the desire to stand victorious at the end be motivation enough? Why isn’t it enough? How do I fix this? I keep thinking about it and contemplating it and planning around it. But never doing it. Because doing it is hard. I’ve never done anything hard. Ever. The hardest thing I’ve ever done was finish delivering my (first) daughter naturally after 4 hours of pushing. The doctor was prepping the operating room for my c-section. I knew that was undesirable and somehow the determination and drive came over me. If I thought I had an extra 2 hours, I probably would have quit. As it was, I thought I could deliver her and I did. And though I’ve had three other (natural) deliveries since hers, I can’t really call them hard because I’ve only had to push less than 10 times for all three. Combined. It’s been a miracle, but not my miracle. Maybe it is just the feelings of being overwhelmed. I’m not good when I look at mountains from their base- in any area of my life, I just quit. If that’s the dishes, the laundry, the homeschooling, finances, or diet.

I wish I had a nice, fuzzy, upbeat ending, but I don’t. I’ve got nothing. And I feel helpless. And trapped.

Good Day

I had a good day today. I didn’t get everything on my list done, I didn’t stick to my schedule and I didn’t eat nutritiously for most of the day. But, it was still a good day.

My wonderful husband let me sleep in, which I did. I got up and drank 2 cups of pretend coffee (that’s instant coffee mixed in with hot chocolate mix) and had a granola bar for breakfast. I remembered to take my vitamins. When Jordyn came downstairs to ask if she could watch another movie, I had her come downstairs and do her phonics lesson first. She flew through it. I managed to get at least 3 loads of laundry done, and almost all of them put away. I chatted on the phone to my sister about interesting things like bones not working and something about Cleveland. I was trying to do laundry and search for apartments while talking to her. Sip, I made a third cup of fake coffee. Deposited check for Eric without a complaint and I did it promptly. Made a healthy dinner for me and the kids after my workout was cut short by those same kiddos.

I read this cute book today.

It is a collection of rhymes like “The Wheels on the Bus” and “1, 2, Buckle My Shoe” that preschoolers everywhere know the motions to, but if you can’t think of something, the author has provided an activity for nearly every rhyme. The pictures are great because they look like fabric that has been pieced together. Super cute, highly recommend!!!

The day was good because I was active, thoughtful and careful. I have some people in my life who look to find fault, and I know that I was faulty often enough today, but no one needs to know when they are being inconstant or erring (unless there is a habit that needs to be addressed and is done willingly and privately). I am proud of myself today, for many of the little things that I did. Hoping that tomorrow, I can do even more things the way they should be done.

Thinking…

I am beginning to think that thinking is a dangerous thing to think about! 😉

So many thoughts have been swirling through that murky brain of mine lately that I hardly know which way to turn. Thoughts on headcovering, seperatism, blogs, homeschooling, agrarianism, moving to Colorado, reading, Bible study, how to spend time with your husband, do my kids know that I love them…I mean really know, baking, sewing, writing…it all intermingles into one gigantic pile of mush and I just can’t sort it all out. 
This is why women should not rule the world.

Anyway, lately (when I am not thinking about one of those previously mentioned topics) I have been thinking about conquering sin and how that relates to change. That was sort of the point I was trying to make in the last post but the fuzzy brain had taken over. I’m mulling it over and studying the Bible more than ever…it’s a good thing, too.
Hope your New Year is looking bright!

College From Home

I have always wanted to get my degree, though I think that without the persuasion of my mom, I would probably be a little more okay with NOT pursuing a degree and instead vesting my time at home with my family. As it is, I am doing neither. As I have posted in previous posts, I am in the process of changing all of that. I am confident that it won’t be changing overnight, but am working on it. Whenever I ask Eric how to go about changing, he always says, “just do it,” like the key is just in doing it. I always thought that was the least helpful advice in the world but now I am beginning to understand. Change is only so good as what you are doing. We always liked to say that it’s “the thought that counts” but really, that is only okay for children buying a parent a gift. In reality, talking about change (what I am very good at!!!) is not enough. I have to actually change and not in thoughts, I have to change in actions. I think this is what Eric has been struggling to see in me lately- a change in action. Though I have had a change in heart, meaning that I regret my actions when I behave poorly and I recognize that the house is not cleaned up to standard, I haven’t (yet) allowed my heart to influence my actions and get me off the couch (and internet) and on to cleaning and care-taking. I am learning to change my actions now and my biggest prayer i that I am able to make lasting changes. So often, I go overboard on my changes and then am unable to continue them. I even feel my appropriate rush of feeling on top of the world, but as soon as I miss a step, I’m back to square one (sounds like the Atkins diet!!!). So back to the degree…

I had originally planned to go to Saint Martin’s this fall and was planning on putting the kids in full-time daycare (though the wouldn’t have to be there full-time) since Jordyn would be going to school in a year, it seemed like a good time to start since I only have a little over a year left for my English degree. However, as the time has drawn close, I don’t think I can manage the $12,000 per SEMESTER tuition costs, plus paying $1500 in daycare a month…that’s pretty darn expensive for a degree that I don’t plan on using!!! I satisfied myself with staying at home and learning with my children as I begin to teach them. However, I mentioned to a neighbor about wanting to get a degree but being able to afford Saint Martins and not willing to go to Evergreen. She said I should look in to an online degree. I blew it off, but the thought stuck in my head and now, I have applied and been accepted to University of Maryland University College (UMUC). Their English degree is 100% online and I will minor in History. I can’t even say how excited I am about this school right now!!! I can start this fall and though it won’t give me anything that I can really use for a career but most schools have a program where you can get your teaching credentials after you get your BA degree, so if I’m ever at the point where I NEED to teach, I can get my certificate within a year or so. It’s not ideal, but by then my kids would both be school-age, and that makes child care easier. The funny part about me going to school is that we MAKE money in the process instead of spending money like at Saint Martins. Because UMUC is a public, non-profit school, they get extra grants and scholarships that other schools might not. Plus, since Eric is in the NG, we get “in-state” tuition costs. Plus, I get my GI Bill, which is supposed to be $1300 a month starting in October, I think. Basically, I will get paid to go to school. This alleviates the need for me to go out and get a job so now I can stay home with the kids. I am pretty excited about this because it just seems to be the best of all my worlds. The biggest problems are the flimsy nature of online schools and there relative disrespect in the education community and my ability to stay full-time in a completely online environment. I don’t know the answers to those questions nor do I really know how to get the answers. Since I am not really pursuing this degree to provide a career, I am not as concerned with the first two and as for me completing full-time credits, I am not confident about that at all, but I hope that I will manage, I will just have to shift some priorities around.

Who knows what will come???

Watching Movies

I really do enjoy watching movies, in particular, movies based in the “olden days” which I would date as almost anything in the 18th or 19th Century. I don’t know why these time periods fascinate me so much, but they do.

I just finished watching a BBC version of Elizabeth Gaskell’s story North & South. In many ways it reminded me of Pride & Prejudice (by Jane Austen) though Austen typically revolved her stories about the oddities of social class whereas Ms. Glaskell’s story included a class conflict, yet was instead revolving around the industrial revolution. It was certainly an interesting movie and that always makes me wonder what the book is like. There are too many versions of Pride & Prejudice and I know too many of them are not good or accurate renditions of it. I can only expect the same in this case.

As I watched the two characters finally embrace one another, it made me long for more. Not more of these characters, though I am always interested in a good “epilogue” just to know what their futures might have looked like. These things are not often found in literature, so I suppose it is left up to my imagination that Mr. Thornton marries the now wealthy Margaret, reopens his mill and they live happily ever after. What I actually long for is to create those two characters. I want to be able to create something that is so stirring that other people want to know more about them. I want to create these people, for characters are easy to create, but fashioning a whole person is almost impossible. That would probably be my harshest criticism on this story. The characters did grow and change: Margaret went from love of the South and despising the underclass (and upperclass) living in Milton to eventually falling in love with a mill owner and befriending many of the workers. John’s story is more of a humbling and rising. At the beginning of the story, he is at the top of his game, an influential man in his community. He is shown to have values and virtues that the other mill owners do not share. Gradually through the strike, he gives in to some conditions, but the main thing that I think of is that he did deny to opportunity to “speculate” and doing so cost him everything. So, he stood up for his values but he didn’t gain from it (unless you allow that by his loss, he gained in his marriage). The other main change that we witness in Mr. Thornton is his treatment of workers. At the beginning, he is seen chasing out and beating a man for smoking in his factory. He denies the man work later, even with the promise to never smoke again. After Margaret’s influence, John hires Mr. Higgins, who had been so influential in the strike that no one would want to hire him. I felt like this change was influenced, not by some depth of character, but as an outward display of affection for one that he didn’t want to love.

Anyway, the whole story was pretty good, though I am new at picking things over. I dare say that I would have gotten an F if I were to bring that analysis to any English classroom. Oh well, it was only the spur of the moment, and not having read the book puts me in a very difficult place to judge because Elizabeth Gaskell gets credit for the plot, but not the script nor the acting or screenplay. I will have to read the novel and see for myself.

In the end, it was an enjoyable FOUR hours, though I will probably never watch it again. Maybe one day, someone will be watching my work turned into a gripping movie.

Bad Mommy

**This is a disturbing rant on my part about my mothering “skills.” If you think that it is going to be too offensive for you or change your opinion of me, please don’t read it. All of the things that I mention in here are being worked on and changed. Originally I published this only as “private” but I want other people to know that they are not the only ones who struggle with successful mothering. Above all, my children know that I love them and I always will.

Why are mothers constantly plagued with guilt? It seems like there is not a thing that I am going to do right in my kids’ lives; no matter what choices I make, they are going to end up messed up and incomplete and they are going to have every right to blame me for it. Why? And why do I automatically accept this guilt, recognize it and allow it as though it were some prize?

I know I’m not going to win “mother of the year” and I know that I will probably never be as good a mother as my mother was to me, but why do I feel insecure all the time about the skills that I have as a mother? Is it just my insecurity in general or am I subconsciously admitting to a lack of parenting prowess? Is my guilt justified?

This isn’t exactly a new thought and I am confident that I am not the only mother who feels the same way. In fact, several months back I bought a book called, Motherhood: The Guilt That Keeps On Giving, by Julie Ann Barnhill. I never read it because at the same time I bought another parenting book from the same author that dealt with anger. Though I never finished the book (in fact I barely started it) it has stuck with me and I think I have made some changes, though I know I haven’t made enough.

I want my kids to grow up happy and healthy with a sincere love of Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. I want them to be well adjusted and confident, intelligent and capable. So far, I feel like I have laid groundwork for lazy, unintelligent beings who only attempt at obedience yet are incapable of achieving the lofty goals that have been set by their authoritative parents. I don’t think they feel safe or wanted at home, in fact most of the time they are sent away to their rooms to watch a movie on the small set they each have in their room. A TV, in a toddler’s room??? I don’t know how to teach them, at their level, even the most basic of things. I fight with their father in front of them until they are confused and upset and yet I don’t know how to change. These kids are not going to grow up the way that I want them to and I’m the one who can change that, yet I don’t know how.

The answer that came to me is this, “Lose yourself in them.” A thought that I’ve had before, in reference to my mother. She lost herself raising us girls and now that we’re gone she feels like she has nothing. We all see her enormous skills and talents, but she feels like she is worthless. I never wanted to lose myself like that. I somehow thought that I could be a stay-at-home mom and still keep my identity. I would be able to sleep in, read books, watch movies and “work” on the computer all day long. Sure, I get up to feed them when they mention that they are hungry or I am ready for a nap, since I know that feeding prior to a nap ensures a better nap for them. Am I even a parent? Maybe the reason I always feel like their babysitter is that I am their babysitter. I am not the one that is invested in their education or training. I am merely marking time until I can do something else. But how to change this? Everyone says that it is easy, that you just include them in what you are doing, but what I do is a solitary activity and doesn’t want help, in fact their version of “helping” only frustrates me further and then I dispatch them to their rooms to watch a movie. Oh when they were babies and required so little! I was able to continue my activities because they would sleep most of the day. I would hold them and nurse them and pray over them. Sometime between 15 months and 24 months, that changed. Now they require constant stimulation and activity and unless I am prepared and am doing it with them, they are restless and the only thing that seems to entertain them is a movie. They ask, and I provide. But every time I turn on that TV in Jordyn or Noah’s room, I feel like a piece of me is dying. They aren’t happier because of it, I’m not happier because of it. The only thing is it is easier. It requires no thought, no planning, no skill and IT WORKS!!! If only it didn’t work.

I have an idea: I can start the day with a movie. I usually have a hard time getting up and ready, so the movie is easy distraction while the family rises. We eat breakfast, they get dressed (since I showered right away), and we do some morning chores. The movie will still be on, probably, so they can either watch or join in my chores. I don’t have too many chores to do when I do them on a daily basis, so this should be easy. After that, we can have “active time”. They can choose an activity from a jar that usually requires activity. Examples are: play a game, play outside, sing songs, take a walk, ride bikes, go shopping or to the park…whatever. I really don’t want to commit a lot of time to this activity, but some of them are long (like shopping or the park). When we get done with active time, we can have quite time, again they can choose from a jar things like, read a story, practice in a workbook, do a craft, bake something, play a quiet game. After that, it will probably be time for lunch and naps. In the afternoon we can follow the same pattern….

Hmm, wonder if that would work…I’ll have to find out.